Investigators responded to the Angeles National Forest on Wednesday morning following the discovery of a trail of blood and what appeared to be a shallow grave, according to deputies.
The hole, 3 feet by 5 feet by 10 inches deep, was first discovered about 4 p.m. Wednesday near mile marker 2.92 along Big Tujunga Canyon Road, near Sunland.
"The 'shallow grave' was processed, and it's just an empty, cavernous hole in the ground," said Lt. Mike Rosson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Blood was discovered in the area, but authorities could not immediately confirm if it was human blood. Tests are still pending.
"We do have a blood trail, however we found no evidence of any remains whatsoever," Rosson said. "(The blood) has to go back to the crime lab to see if it's human blood or animal. But, erring on the side of caution, we're going to treat this as a crime scene."
Detectives also found items in the area consistent with religious rituals: chicken bones and pieces of burned cloth. Several residents said the canyon is a different kind of place after dark:
"There's lots of transients living out here in the wash, so there's a little bit of commotion, sometimes, out there," said Sunland resident Robin, who did not want her last name published.
Investigators with the coroner's department were at the scene Wednesday. Aerial video showed about a dozen police vehicles and at least one police K-9.
The investigation is ongoing.
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that a body was found. Detectives clarified that only a trail of blood was discovered near the hole.